Why I don’t read long books

I’m currently reading Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear”. I mention this, not because I expect you to be following my fiction habits but because at 798 pages it happens to be a long book by my standards.

As a general rule I don’t like long books.  For one thing, they test my attention span: I read “The Vampire Lestat” by Anne Rice on vacation a while back. I’d really enjoyed “Interview with the Vampire”, and this sequel was enjoyable, but it took soooo long to get through I ended up not being able to read some of the other paperbacks I’d carried halfway round the world and I ended up resenting Anne as a result.

Secondly, they often invest too much effort in things I don’t need to be that invested in. I read Stephen King’s “It” at school. I remember being irritated that King had spent what felt like the first dozen pages giving me backstory on some kid only to have him killed on the next page with no subsequent impact on the plot.

Basically, I can’t help but think that books of this length could do with the help of a good editor. I get the impression Michael Crichton half agrees with me on this one:

“Traffic was heavy. He crept slowly along Sunset; he had plenty of time to think. The conversation with Drake left him feeling odd. There had been a funny quality to the actual meeting. As if it didn’t really need to happen…”

Crichton, M. (2004) “State of Fear”, Harper Fiction. ISBN: 978-0-06-178266-4, page 203